Nationals manager Matt Williams has said repeatedly that Ryan Zimmerman will shift back to third base from left field once Bryce Harper is ready to come off the disabled list, but according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com “Zimmerman sounded like a guy that didn’t want to go back to third base.”
That assessment came after yesterday’s game, when Zimmerman said:
It’s fun out there [in left field]. It has taken some of the burden off of what I was feeling at third base. … I’ll see what happens. I’m pretty comfortable in left and I think Anthony [Rendon] is a hell of a third baseman. I think there is no doubt right now he is better over there than me. But you have to have your best players in the lineup somehow. Whatever Matt needs me to do, that’s what I’ll do.
Zimmerman’s chronic shoulder problems made playing third base a struggle for him and meant any forceful throw across the diamond could lead to needing time off, so it’s easy to see why he’d be hesitant to move back there full time. Still, unless the Nationals were to, say, trade Denard Span to open up an outfield spot the only way to get their best players into the lineup together is for Zimmerman to play mostly third base.
It’s a moot point for a bit longer, but Harper is due back from the disabled list around July 1.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.